KwaZulu-Natal teachers elated at vaccination despite initial fears

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The KwaMashu Sports Centre where KZN launched its teacher vaccinations.
The KwaMashu Sports Centre where KZN launched its teacher vaccinations.
Kaveel Singh
  • The first batch of KZN teachers vaccinated on Wednesday said they were happy to receive the vaccine.
  • Some were nervous, but resolved to receive their jab for fear of Covid-19.
  • The KZN education department aims to vaccinate 127 000 employees.

Despite frustration, doubt and fear, many KwaZulu-Natal teachers say they are happy to be receiving their Covid-19 vaccination, a process which began nationally on Wednesday.

The province launched its rollout for teachers at the KwaMashu Sports Centre on Wednesday morning where the first batch of teachers, many from the Duduzane Primary School in Ntuzuma, lined up for their jab.

There was a sense of excitement, trepidation and even a fair degree of nervousness in the air, as the first batch of teachers lined up to get vaccinated.

Sthembile Mchunu, a foundation phase teacher at Duduzane Primary School, said that unlike many of her colleagues, she was not overly excited about the vaccination.

"There is no excitement whatsoever, I am very nervous. There is so much being said around the whole vaccination, but I'd rather be safe than sorry, so I chose to vaccinate today."

She said that among her fears, were rumours that the vaccine could cut down people's lifespan.

"A lot is being said - some say you live for two years, others say your life span will be shorter. There are also a lot of side effects," she said.

Mchunu said despite the fear-mongering she still believed it would help her. She said she was happy to get back to school because the disruptions meant the curriculum was behind.

"We can't wait to get back to normal schooling because of all the disruptions. We cant wait for school getting back to normal.

READ | Nothing 'devilish' about the Covid-19 vaccine – KZN Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu

She said her field, the foundation phase, was vital in the schooling system.

"The foundation phase is a very important time for pupils, so losing it means that at a later stage, [pupils] won't be as good as we expect [them] to be. We are not dealing well with the lack in schooling."

English teacher Nkanyiso Ntuli, also from Duduzane Primary School, said he was excited to get the vaccine.

"It is something I have been waiting for, for a very long time. I am very sure that this will keep the infections to a minimal. I am very excited."

He said the vaccine would help "keep the disease at a minimum".

"Education has not been the same since [the rotational system was implemented]. Some times in some schools you find pupils will come for one week and then even miss [the alternate] week they were meant to come. So what [position] does that put education in?"

He said that while getting vaccinated was voluntary, he believed it was vital to get the jab.

"Even though we are not forced and it is voluntary, as a human being, you have to vaccinate because you don't know what the future entails. You might be infected after you were given a chance to vaccinate. So, what happens after that?"

Ntuli said he was looking forward to going back to normal with pupils attending school daily.

"As educators we will be able to engage in a proper manner with these learners where teaching and learning will be taught in the way that it should be."

Grade 7 EMS teacher and deputy principal Sandile Mkhize said he was also excited about getting vaccinated.

READ | Covid-19: Several Western Cape teachers say no to vaccine due to religious, health concerns

"It has been quite a challenge going to schools without getting any vaccine and we felt very unsafe because we don't know where this pandemic is coming from. It can come from us as educators or the learners.

"I am excited today to be the first to get this particular jab. I am happy."

Mkhize said he believed vaccinations would help get teaching back to normal.

"It was quite a challenge because within a week you will teach two groups the same thing. Now it will be back to normal and ensure the curriculum coverage is done properly in the school.

"We are hoping to do a lot of catch-up programmes that will help pupils because those from Grade 7 to 8 needs to be taught quite a lot, so the return makes us happy."

KZN presently has 70 vaccination sites for teachers and was expected to vaccinate approximately 127 000 employees in the province's education department.

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